by Mark Nepo
When we can still ourselves, our heart will sink —of its own weight—below the noise of the world, the advice of others, and even our own expectations. Once that still, our mind can relax and we have the chance to inhale what matters. This is how we practice meeting life.
So when losing track of what I believe in, when wondering what work I’m called to next, I still my heart until I stop feeding the dark things that keep shouting they’re important. In that stillness, I ask myself: Where is the light coming from today? What do I have to do to put myself in its path? What part of me is illuminated for leaning into life? What can I learn by being so lighted? What is it my heart can’t keep from doing that will bring me more alive?
To lean into life requires a quiet courage that lets us find our aliveness. And the reward for leaning into life is that everything hidden becomes sweet and colorful. Or more, we are finally present enough to receive the sweetness and the color. Consider how a flower opens. It doesn’t prepare for a particular moment, but stays true to a life of leaning toward the light. When a flower blossoms, it turns inside out and wears its beauty in the world. As do we. In just this way, a soul opens over a lifetime of leaning into life.
Despite the hardships we encounter, the heart keeps opening after closing, the way day follows night. Until meeting life is our daily experiment in truth. No matter the obstacles, we’re asked to welcome the sweet teachers along the way. Until we accept that the secret kingdom is everywhere.
A Question to Walk With: In conversation with a friend or loved one, describe a time that your heart opened after closing. What helped you to open again?
Reprinted with permission from Mark Nepo’s book, “Inside the Miracle: Enduring Suffering, Approaching Wholeness” and his article in Patheos.
As a cancer survivor, Mark Nepo devotes his writing and teaching to the journey of inner transformation and the life of relationship. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, he has published 12 books and recorded six audio projects which have been translated into 18 languages. Mark will lead the retreat, Finding Inner Courage, at Copper Beech Institute October 21-23, 2016.
Copper Beech Institute is the nation’s newest retreat center for mindfulness and contemplative practice offering more than 50 transformational programs to foster peace, resilience, and compassion in everyday life.